Prague Castle Tour – from St Vitus Cathedral to Golden Lane
Take a tour of Prague Castle. Watch the changing of the guards. Admire St Vitus Cathedral, and stroll through the Golden Lane.
Prague Castle More than St Vitus Cathedral
Perched on a hilltop, Prague Castle is one of the largest castle complexes in the world and covers seven hectares (eighteen acres). It is Prague's number one tourist attraction – St Vitus Cathedral, Golden Lane the Changing of the Guards. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon wandering through just the grounds. If you want to include the Cathedral, all museums and the Old Palace you will need a full day. I would strongly advise you to take a guided tour, because then you are sure to see everything from St Vitus Cathedral to the Golden Lane.
Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral
personal collection Mivvy
Prague Castle from Wooden Fortress to World's Largest Castle Complex
Prague Castle developed from a wooden fortress built in the ninth century into world's largest castle complex. The castle grounds include three churches, a palace, a monastery and numerous gardens. Construction of St Vitus Cathedral began in the fourteenth century, when the castle was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire.
In the eighteenth century, Empress Maria Theresa enclosed the castle complex in a number of neo-classical building creating hundreds of rooms and floor space. This is the 'wall', you see when looking at Prague Castle from the Old Town or Charles Bridge.
In the twentieth century, the Nazis and later the Communists were in command of the castle. After the velvet revolution in 1989, Prague Castle became the Seat of Government.
Changing of the Guards at Prague Castle
Tourists gather in front of the castle. They snap photos of the castle guards standing at attention and wait for the ceremony of the Changing of the Guards.
Every hour, on the hour this spectacle takes place. At noon, it is spiced up a bit and includes a flag ceremony and a brass band. When Vaclav Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic, came into office 1990, he spruced up the changing of the Guards ceremony. He replaced the drab uniforms of the Communist days by blue uniforms with gold braid epaulettes and commissioned a pop star to compose the music. The new uniforms were introduced in 1990.
If the Changing of the Guards at Prague Castle reminds you of the ceremony of Buckingham Palace in London, you are right. The Prague spectacle was modeled after the British one.
The Best View of Prague Castle
High on a hilltop, Prague Castle dominates the city's skyline. The most striking building is St Vitus cathedral whose spires soar high into the sky. You get the best view of the castle from Charles Bridge, Smetanovo Embankment, Jiraskuv Bridge and Letna Hill.
My favourite way up to Prague Castle is via Nerudova Street. This street will take you right up to the entrance gate. I like to go down via the Castle Steps, Zámecké schody, pass through the Rampart Gardens, into Zámecká street and end in Malostranské náměstí. Both walks reward you with the most beautiful vistas of Prague.
Prague Castle at a Glance
Enter Prague Castle through the main gate flanked by two battling Titans.
1. Picture Gallery of Prague Castle holds works of art of the imperial collection and comprises mainly Renaissance and Baroque paintings. Highlights are: Titian – The Toilet of a Young lady and Rubens – The Assembly of the Olympic Gods.
2. Powder Tower was in the sixteenth century the workshop of a gunsmith and bell founder who made the large bell for St Vitus Cathedral. In the seventeenth century, the tower was a storage place for gunpowder. It is now a museum with exhibits relating to bell foundery and alchemy.
3. Golden Lane is a row of picturesque cottages built for the castle's guards and gunners. Today it is crammed with souvenir shops, very popular and always crowded.
4. Lobkowicz Palace houses the historical collection of the National Museum. The collection contains copies of the Bohemian Crown Jewels and also documents, paintings, jewellery and weapons.
5. St Georges Convent is home to Renaissance and Baroque works of art. The star exhibit is the bust of a talking apostle, because it shows strong movement and is very realistic.
6. St Vitus Cathedral is the centre piece of Prague Castle. Construction started in the fourteenth century and was completed in the twentieth century. The cathedral is the last resting place of the 'good king' Wenceslas. It houses the Crown jewels, displayed on rare occasions only. The cathedrals' star features are the rose window, flying buttresses, Alphons Mucha's art nouveau window and the tomb of John of Nepomuk.
Prague Castle Tour Tickets
Prague Castle is the city's main tourist attraction. Every year one million visitors walk to the hill-top castle. Get your tour tickets at the Castle Information Centers located in the second and third courtyards, or in the Chapel of the Holy Cross in the second courtyard or at the ticket counter of the Old Royal Palace or The Story of Prague Exhibition. You simply cannot go wrong. The only problem may be the long queues, especially in July and August.
Two Types of Castle Tickets
There are two types of tickets: the Long Tour and the Short Tour of Prague Castle. Both tickets are valid on the day of purchase and the following day.
The ticket for the Long Tour comprises the Old Royal Palace, the permanent exhibition of The Story of Prague Castle, St. George's Basilica, Convent of St. George, Dalibor Tower, Prague Castle Picture Gallery and the Powder Tower.
The short tour includes the Old Royal Palace, the permanent exhibition The Story of Prague, St George’s Basilica and Dalibor Tower.
Prague Castle Opening Hours and Ticket prices
Buildings for which entry tickets are needed are open daily from 9 am to 6 pm
Prague Castle Grounds are open daily
- 1 April – 31 October: 5 am – midnight
- 1 November – 31 March: 6 am – 11 pm
Castle gardens and Stag Moat are open daily
- April and October 10 am – 6 pm
- May and September 10 am – 7 pm
- June and July 10 am – 9 pm
- August 10 am – 8 pm
Prague Castle Ticket Prices
- Long Tour, CZK 350 (US $19, €14)
- Short Tour, CZK 250 (US $14, €10)
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